NASA came up with a brilliant way for visually impaired people to ‘see’ the eclipse.

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Posted on: August 18, 2017

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You may have heard: There's a total solar eclipse coming!

Maybe it's the pseudo-apocalyptic vibe we're all getting every time we turn on the news these days, but everyone seems to be especially jazzed for this eclipse, set to take place on Aug. 21.

Convenience stores, hardware stories, big box stores, and even online retailers are selling (and selling out) of the special glasses you'll need to see it.

But what about those people who aren't able to "see" it at all?

NASA recently announced a guidebook that helps the visually impaired experience this and other eclipses.

Photo by NASA Ames Research Center

The tactile book, called "Getting a Feel for Eclipses" uses braille, patterns, and other textured graphics to help people who won't be able to see the eclipse chart its path, understand the moving parts, and take part in the experience.

GIF via NASA/YouTube

This isn't just the "next best thing" to seeing the eclipse; it provides a totally unique perspective on it.

"We've been finding that it's extremely helpful for those who are sighted as well, to grasp the concept," said Cassandra Runyon, director of the South Carolina Space Grant Consortium in a video released by NASA.

Photo by NASA Ames Research Center

NASA created the guide on the heels of other braille space books about craters and Mars. Making space and exploration more accessible has been a big push for the agency lately.

"It's the perfect opportunity for NASA to engage the public, including the visually impaired, in our missions, in our understanding of the natural world around us," said Joe Minafra, innovation and tech partnerships lead at NASA. "It's their space agency. We want to include them as well."

Over 5,000 copies of the book have been sent around the country, to schools, libraries, museums, and science centers.

Runyon told The College Today that thank-you letters have been pouring in from organizations who've received the book.

Call your local science center or library for the visually impaired to find out if they have a copy (or get more information straight from NASA here), then get ready to experience the solar eclipse in a totally new and exciting way.



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